Quantitative genetics of neurodevelopment

Exciting opportunity to conduct PhD in the field of quantitative genetics of neurodevelopment employing diverse ancestry data.

Start date

1 October 2024


3.5 years full-time or pro rata part-time

Application deadline

Funding source

University of Surrey

Funding information



The student will have the opportunity to work on a project analysing data from large-scale longitudinal and developmental cohorts with a focus on infant and child phenotypes. The goals will be to investigate the common genetic architecture underlying neurodevelopment, both as continuous traits and clinically-diagnosed neurodevelopmental conditions.  Datasets come from national and international collaborations with the supervisory team and include some of the leading data world-wide for understanding early neurodevelopment in diverse ancestries.  During the PhD, the student will be able to gain high-level skills in R, coding, multiple genetic software packages and in conducting transparent, pre-registered, high-quality research.  The student will be encouraged to publish their research in high-impact leading peer reviewed journals and to present their work at relevant national and international conferences. The student will be encouraged to embed their research within theoretical approaches. They will be supported in accessing and interpreting past literature through journal clubs, available training in using biomedical search engines and conducting literature reviews.  

The student will be part of a lab team and can participate in science dissemination activities, meetings, journal clubs and lab socials.  The student will be encouraged to gain networking skills in their field of research and to gain skills in written and oral presentations. Postgraduate activities within the University of Surrey and within the London Genetics Network will also be available to them. 

The first supervisor, Professor Ronald, is an expert in the field of genetic influences of neurodevelopmental conditions and traits. She has >20 years’ experience of genetic research and >135 publications. In 2020, Professor Ronald co-founded the London Genetics Network, which has >330 members from >30 institutions (including Surrey) in London and the surrounding areas.  Professor Pluess will also act as second supervisor: he brings extensive experience in research on child development in a range of settings and countries. His research employs a range of measurement approaches and is known for addressing both psychopathology and positive psychology within the field of child development.

Eligibility criteria

Open to UK nationals and those who pay UK/home rate fees. See UKCISA for further information

Essential criteria include:

  1. A 2.1 or above undergraduate degree in a relevant subject, such as psychology, biology, human genetics 
  2. An MSc in a relevant subject involving human genetic research or child development research
  3. Prior experience working with statistical packages including R and knowledge of statistics for psychology or genetics
  4. Clear motivation and passion for research on neurodevelopment/ neurodevelopmental conditions in infants and children.  

Desirable criteria include experience:

  1. Prior experience analysing genome-wide data or analyses with polygenic scores (during your undergraduate, MSc or other previous roles) 
  2. Experience saving and annotating coded scripts
  3. Experience consulting with, or representing, advocates in research.

You will need to meet the minimum entry requirements for our PhD programme.

How to apply

Applications should be submitted via the Psychology PhD programme page.

In place of a research proposal you should upload a document stating the title of the project that you wish to apply for and the name of the relevant supervisor.

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Application deadline

Contact details

Angelica Ronald
E-mail: a.ronald@surrey.ac.uk

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